Judicial system of Kuwait functions in conformity with Law No 23/1980 for regularization of the judiciary. It claims its origin from the Amiri Decree No 90 of 1959, which is established on two cardinal principles which is the confirmation of the authority of courts over all civil, commercial and administrative disputes arising in the country and equality before law. The second principle is that at all times the supremacy of the State shall not be compromised with.
The issues are classified into Civil, Commercial and Criminal categories. The Penal Code governs the general provisions applicable to crimes, penalties and culpable acts. Corporate and Commercial Laws are applicable for commercial disputes which in sequence will be interpreted in accordance to the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedures, the Law of Evidence and the Law of Criminal Procedures besides the underlying laws. The concept of precedent is not generally followed as a mode of practice yet decisions of higher courts are respected.
The court structure is categorized in hierarchical order. The Courts of First Instance, The Courts of Appeal and the Constitutional Court are the three levels. The Courts of First Instance (“Kulya Court’) which handle civil, commercial, personal status and penal matters is the lowest court in this hierarchy. Judgements from court of first instance are exposed to appeal before the Court of Appeal. However, Judgements in cases involving misdemeanors punishable by less than three years of imprisonment or fines of less than 250 Kuwaiti dinars cannot be appealed to a higher level court; commercial and civil judgments involving fines less than 1000 dinars are considered to be final. The criminal courts settle issues related to misdemeanor and felony.
The Courts of Appeal, which has a panel of three judges, serve as both intermediate and final courts of appeal. The Court of Cassation, incorporated to the system in 1990, is the apex court in the hierarchy and serves as the final court of appeal.
Constitutional Court was established by Law No. 14 of 1973, which holds the exclusive authority to interpret the constitutionality of legislation and is authorized to evaluate election procedures. The Court comprises of five members who will be chosen by the Judicial Council through secret ballot and one of the members will be appointed by decree. A significant guide to the judiciary in rendering opinions about legislation is the Explanatory Note stating the legislative intentions of the legislature which usually as a rule accompany all legislative acts.
Law No. 26 of 1969 established the Court of State Security, to try cases involving issues that affect the internal and external security of the state. The Court comprises of three members who are recommended by the Minister of Justice and authorized by decree. Judgment made by this court is final.
Legal profession is governed by Law No. 42 of 1964. Judges are appointed by Amiri decree, and are not supposed to hold any other profession after appointment. The impeachment of a judge is to be instigated by The Judicial Council, and the Judiciary Disciplinary Council takes disciplinary action.
The system of the State of Kuwait is based on the separation of powers. Article 50 of the Constitution provides that “The Government works based on the principle of separation of powers enriching each other in accordance to the provisions of the Constitution”.
Court of Appeal publishes the magazine the Judiciary and Law which provides information on recent judgements of the court of Cassation. The Ministry of Justice publishes a magazine which details new legislations, gives information about the recent developments in law as well as review on recent judgements. The Lawyer magazine of the Kuwaiti society of Lawyers concentrates more on research topics and the Magazine of the law centre gives information on Islamic law.